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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Health & Well-Being

Cherrial, Flourish Stories. (AI edit) Credit: Andrew Brodhead


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Content Note

Flourish Stories may include discussions of suicidal ideation or language that may be distressing. As you read each student's story, we encourage you to prioritize your own emotional well-being. Take a break from reading or seek support if needed. Remember, it's OK to not be OK. 

Healing began when I realized, ‘Wait, I can’t run away from this; I have to run toward it. I have to confront my feelings to be able to heal them ... ’”

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Cherrial's Story

“I struggled a lot with my mental health, especially in my early teenage years, growing up in difficult homes where both my parents struggled with addiction and their own mental health issues. It took a pretty big toll on me, and by the time I was 13, I was struggling with a lot of depression, anxiety, and had tried to take my own life twice. 

But I was really fortunate to have found a nonprofit in Las Vegas, where I'm from, called the Inspiring Children Foundation, that gave me the love, support, wisdom, tools and resources that have helped me heal. I cry tears of joy on a regular basis and feel an abundance of love and joy in my life. 

My journey began with practicing mindfulness, meditation and yoga, and with help, I started addressing those fundamental areas of my life: simple things like sleeping, getting exercise and eating well. At the same time, I was working through some pretty extreme childhood trauma and, through that, realizing that I needed to heal my relationship with my parents. So while it was a journey of healing myself, it was also a healing journey for my family. The more I healed within myself, the more I was able to show up in my relationships.

I had a lot of people telling me that I shouldn’t be talking to my dad because he wasn’t in the best mental state himself, but for me, I just knew that was a really important relationship in my life, and if I didn’t reach out or talk to him, I would have been left with a lot of regret. Because even though he struggled, there were also so many beautiful moments, and he helped shape me in so many ways. 

I’m so glad I didn’t give up on our relationship, because after three years, my dad ended up passing away from his addiction. It was this kind of wild experience, because as a kid, it was my biggest fear in life. I’d always carried this feeling that I was responsible for him, I was his reason for living, so it was a lot of pressure. But I think being able to hold space for what he was going through and his struggles, and to realize that they were separate from me and my worth, was one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced or done in my life. My dad’s passing became a beautiful experience for me, knowing I never gave up on our relationship and was able to love him fully and in a healthy way that was no longer codependent. 

Throughout this time, I had a really good support system around me. One person, who I call my ‘godfather,’ was so helpful, and I don’t think I would have done the healing I’ve done if it wasn’t for him — he saved my life. I remember I’d have panic attacks while talking to my dad because I was afraid of the emotions that would be brought up, and my godfather would help me through it and just be the constant source of support and wisdom that I needed. I also was able to find healing alongside my mom, whom I had a very distant relationship with until she decided to heal herself and get sober. I am grateful every day for the work she has done in her life and how she showed up for me when I needed it the most.

I think going through the things I went through as a kid and teenager has made me passionate about mental health advocacy. Yes, it’s because of my own experiences, but also because of what I saw my family members struggle with, especially seeing how they did not have access to the resources I was so lucky to find at a pretty young age. 

When I was really struggling, I just wanted to escape; I didn't want to feel anymore. I think everyone feels this to some degree and wants to escape at times in different ways, but for me, for whatever reason, it took the form of suicidal thoughts. 

Healing began when I realized, ‘Wait, I can’t run away from this; I have to run toward it. I have to confront my feelings to be able to heal them.’ In the beginning, the work was difficult and painful at times, but in the end it’s given me so much freedom and so much joy and love and has freed up so much space for me to fully live life. I still get negative thoughts that creep in, but now I am able to separate myself from them and am able to not let them run my life. 

My early years here at Stanford were challenging and lonely at times. I didn’t initially find a sense of community. That’s why I started Wellness Buddies and began working with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs mental health and well-being communications team as an intern. I wanted to share the tools that have helped me heal and continue to help me during difficult times in college and to create community around things that make me feel good. I feel grateful that I have had tools coming into college that have helped me navigate through hard times, and that I have never found myself back in that dark place I was once in. I do, however, remember how lonely and hopeless I felt in my struggles, and I hope to use my time here to help others know they are not alone and to help shine some light. 

I’ve redefined where my worth comes from and learned to know that pain and discomfort are temporary. And if you can work through it in the right ways and find the right support, you end up feeling better than you ever could have imagined.” 

Additional Details About Cherrial

  • Class of ’25
  • BA, Psychology
Littlefield garden, 2022. Credit: Andrew Brodhead

Mental Health Resources at Stanford

This website is your go-to hub for navigating the many mental health and well-being resources at Stanford. Whether you are seeking advice to establish your self-care routine, looking for ways to manage stress or mental health symptoms, tips to help a friend, someone supportive to talk to, or anything in between, you are not alone.

Professional staff and your peers are ready to support you, regardless of what point you are in your mental health and well-being journey.